Heavy horse-trading as House nears bailout vote

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The White House and congressional leaders had hoped that the 74-25 Senate vote in favor of the bill would give it new momentum in the House. At least two Republican ‘no’ votes — Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee and Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona — announced they intended to vote for the bill.

“We fought for a better bill, but let’s not go into next week facing an economic catastrophe,” Mr. Wamp said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “I think the wind is behind this bill now, instead of being in its face,” he said.

Even some of those still opposed to the bill said it appeared that the pressure from party leaders, the White House and the markets had taken its toll.

“I think probably the fix is in,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, Oregon Democrat, in an interview on MSNBC. “Probably the bill passes now.”

A coalition of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats defied their party leaders and stunned global financial markets by rejecting the original administration rescue package Monday on a 228-205 vote. The vote came despite warnings from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and private analysts that failure to act could cause global markets to seize up and create financial havoc on both Wall Street and Main Street.

Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said he expected almost all of the 140 Democrats who supported the original deal to vote in favor again, despite unhappiness from some fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dogs over tax breaks and other “sweeteners” added by the Senate. The real question, Mr. Hoyer said, will be whether enough Republicans can be persuaded to switch from ‘no’ to ‘yes.’

“We need a significantly greater number of Republicans than we got [Monday],” Mr. Hoyer said. “Frankly, the things that were added on in the Senate and the way they were added on essentially appeal to Republican members,” he said.

But the Senate changes have only added a new wrinkle to the high-stakes legislative standoff.

Mr. LaTourette’s amendment would give the Treasury Department the authority to spend only $250 billion initially, and seek congressional approval after that if more funds are needed.

In addition, it would strip spending items included in the Senate bill, including special provisions benefiting rum producers and the NASCAR stock-racing circuit.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican and a highly reluctant backer of the bailout in Monday’s vote, endorsed the amendment and rejected the idea the House should rubber-stamp the Senate’s handiwork.

“It is a ludicrous suggestion to say that whatever the Senate passes we have to adopt,” said Mr. Bachus, who stopped short of saying he would switch to ‘no’ if the amendment did not pass.

Mr. LaTourette told reporters that his amendment would attract 400 votes on the House floor if the chamber’s Democratic leaders allowed it to be offered.

At the White House, President Bush hosted business leaders from the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who have strongly recommended quick passage of the bailout measure. Mr. Bush, who has been making calls all week to lawmakers in support of the bill, said the economic crisis is starting to be felt far beyond the financial world.

“This thing has gone way beyond New York and Wall Street. This is an issue that’s affecting hardworking people,” Mr. Bush said. “They’re worried about their savings, they’re worried about their jobs, they’re worried about their houses, they’re worried about their small businesses.”

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About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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